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10 Tips on How to Prepare for a Lung Transplant Offer


Woman on phone looking out window

The moment you and your family have been waiting for is here: The phone rings and it’s the call for your lung transplant. 

How to prepare

Here are 10 tips to help you be ready for the call and understand the next steps in the lung transplant process.

If you're sick, don't wait for us to call you

If you are not feeling well or you are having any symptoms of a possible infection, it's important to share that information with the coordinator early in the conversation. If at any point, you are sick, start antibiotics or steroids, or get hospitalized for any reason, you need to let your transplant nurse practitioner know.

Consider your options

If your donor is considered “PHS high risk”, the transplant coordinator will discuss this with you in detail to make sure you are comfortable and interested with the offer.

Be prepared to fast

You most likely will be asked to have nothing more to eat or drink from the time of the phone call forward; however, sometimes we know there will be a significant time delay between the call and the surgery, so we may tell you that clear liquids are okay. Please be sure to discuss this with the coordinator.

We need to know if you're due for medications

Let the coordinator know if you are due for a dose of your routine medications. Inhalers, including rescue inhalers, are okay for you to take, and it is recommended that you bring any rescue inhalers that you use with you for the trip in case you need them in the car.

Pack your bag for the hospital

In your bag, make sure you include toiletries, sneakers and something to keep busy. There will be down time between the phone call and the surgery, so you will want something to help keep your mind occupied, such as a crossword puzzle or a book. Don’t forget to pack a cell phone charger. Loved ones should take care to bring medications and comforts that they will need if they are going to be away from home.

Find your support person

You will be asked to start making your way to the hospital. If your support person does not live with you give them a call so they can make their way over to pick you up. Do not rush, drive the speed limit, and wear your seat belt.

The time of day may affect where you go

The coordinator will direct you where to go based on the time of the day we are calling you. It's good to remember that a lot of these calls come in the middle of the night.

If it is between the hours of 8:00 am and 8:00 pm you will be able to enter the hospital through the main entrance and valet parking will be available to you. Once in the hospital, you will go to the admissions department on the first floor.

If it is after 8:00 pm the main hospital entrance is closed. You will need to enter the hospital through the emergency room. We will alert security in the emergency room that you are coming, and they will escort you to the admissions department.

We'll assist you in getting admitted

The admissions department will help you with the admissions process. You will likely be admitted to the Silverstein Building on the 10th floor.

Be ready to be assessed

Once in your room a few routine admission orders will be placed. We will obtain blood work and a chest x-ray. One of the nurse practitioners on the floor will meet with you, do an assessment and help get you settled in.

Patience is a virtue

It is important for you to know that after the initial phone call it could be hours before we get any more information regarding the offer. Please be assured  that we have not forgotten about you. We will update you as the information becomes available to us.

Keep in mind when the call comes it will be a preliminary offer; the offer will not be final until the Penn Lung Transplant procurement surgeon is able to visualize the lungs and confirm they are suitable for transplant. It's not uncommon to get the call, come into the hospital but leave without your transplant -- a situation referred to as a "dry run." Learn more about the dry run here.

Additionally, your Penn transplant nurse coordinator is available to answer any questions you may have about preparing for the call. Please consider them a resource should you have any questions at all.

About this Blog

The Penn Medicine Transplant blog features short postings with news about the transplant program at Penn Medicine, notices about upcoming events and health information. Subscribe to the blog and stay connected with Penn's Transplant Program!

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